Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA

What is Wet Brain?

The term “Wet brain” refers to a type of brain damage usually caused from regular excessive alcohol consumption, also known as alcohol use disorder. Wet brain has also been recorded to be common among those suffering with malabsorption (a disorder that means the human body cannot properly break down certain types of food groups), often occurring after weight-loss surgery or chronic illness.

Those who suffer with wet brain syndrome are diagnosed as having a deficiency from vitamin B thiamine. The term wet brain derives from Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). The National Organization for Rare Disorders defines WKS as two separate disorders concatenated into one but are explained individually as:

– Wernicke: “Confusion, the inability to coordinate voluntary movement and eye (ocular) abnormalities”, a condition specifically affecting the central nervous system.
Source: NARO

– Korsakoff: “Chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1)”

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Korsakoff syndrome can also occur for individuals who have not suffered from an episode of Wernicke encephalopathy in the past. As a result, many medical professionals argue the term wet brain shouldn’t be used as it may become somewhat ambiguous as to which medical terms are relevant for a patients case; whether it includes both Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis, or whether the patient has suffered solely Korsakoff psychosis.

Symptoms of Wet Brain

Symptoms of wet brain can vary as wet brain can refer to either Korsakoff, or both Korsakoff  and Wernicke. However, both symptoms for each of these medical disorders can be found below:

Wernicke encephalopathy:

  • Leg tremours caused from ataxia, suffering from a loss of muscle coordination
  • Irregular and unusual eye movements such as nystagmus
  • Balancing issues or needing a hand when standing
  • Suffering from confusion often

Korsakoff psychosis:

  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Memory loss from recent events or prolonged amounts of time
  • Unintentional confabulating – they may believe they are telling the truth but in actual fact are relaying fabricated and imaginary experiences
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme weight loss in quick succession

Recovering from Wet Brain

According to NARO, on average 1-2% of the US population suffer from wet brain with men being more susceptible than women. Out of those that contract wet brain, a greater than average percentage do not die from it. At present, medical research suggests the following recovery rates for wet brain:

  • 70% require long-term care for wet brain but do not die from it
  • 20% encounter increasing symptoms until death
  • 10% impetuous recovery without any or little medical help

Various treatment options are available for anyone suffering from wet brain syndrome. It’s likely that a medical professional will need to run a medical examination on a case by case basis prior to acting upon any medical treatment but you can expect at a minimum to be provided doses of thiamine to counteract the bodies vitamin deficiency. Thiamine, alongside other vitamins can either be provided orally (inserted via the mouth), intravenously (inserted to veins) or intramuscularly (inserted into muscles).

Wet brain is an incredibly serious condition which should be treated with urgent effect.

If you suspect anyone including yourself is showing signs of having any symptoms of wet brain, we suggest contacting an accredited alcohol rehab near you for expert medical advice and treatment options.

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